Flu season warrants preparation among cleaning firms


The coronavirus has been snatching the headlines of global publications since December.

According to the World Health Organization, over 43,000 people across the world (mostly in China) have been infected by the respiratory virus, including 12 in the U.S. The WHO also has confirmed over 1,000 deaths, including one U.S. citizen in China.

Despite the high number of confirmed cases, Bradley Mead, a sales manager for Professional Maintenance of Michigan, a cleaning and maintenance contractor, said it is not the most serious virus that is harming Americans daily.

“Every year, there is a new great disease, but the real disease to worry about ultimately comes down to influenza,” he said. “It passes fast, it remains contagious for a long period of time and if you have a weak immune deficiency, it can take you out.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that so far this season, there have been at least 22 million flu illnesses, 210,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 deaths from the flu in the U.S.

The flu is caused by viruses, which can be spread from person-to-person contact when an infected person sneezes or coughs, and it can live a short time on objects like doorknobs, pens, keyboards and phones, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Like viruses, germs and bacteria have been the source of a multitude of illnesses. To minimize or even avoid the spread, Mead said during the summer, he tracks what germs are active in the southern hemisphere in an effort to prepare for the winter in the northern hemisphere.

One of the buildings that Professional Maintenance of Michigan is contracted to clean is the Wyoming VA Clinic, which is a 28,872-square-foot outpatient clinic that is managed by Bradley Company.

“One of the reasons we chose Professional Maintenance is because of their extensive experience with the number of medical properties they clean, and they had to interview with the veteran administration,” said Sally Tucker, managing director for Bradley Company.

Mead, who has decades of experience with cleaning and maintaining facilities in the medical industry across the Midwest, said he has dealt with a variety of germs and pathogens, including MRSA, C. diff and HIV, but he said the most dangerous pathogen he is most afraid of is hepatitis B because it stays active in dry blood for two weeks.

“I make sure we have the proper disinfectant to kill those germs that are coming up,” Mead said. “I probably have five different disinfectants with us that we can take to different buildings if we need them. We apply our disinfectant, like most companies, we spray it on and wait five minutes to 10 minutes and then you wipe it off. If you go into a lot of restaurants you will see them spray the table and wipe it off, but it basically doesn’t kill anything. Every disinfectant has a kill claim and it tells what germs that disinfectant kills. The more germs it kills, the more toxic the disinfectant is.”

Along with disinfectant, Mead said what makes Professional Maintenance of Michigan different than others is its electrostatic sprayer, which electrically charges the molecules of the disinfectant.

While there are treatments that can be used for influenza, there are only preventive measures that individuals can take to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

“The CDC’s No. 1 and 2 recommendation for the coronavirus is to wash your hands with soap and water,” Mead said. “Do not use hand sanitizers because they do not kill viruses.”

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